Defense Acquisition Changes and Agile Systems Engineering
The traditional acquisition and test & evaluation process to develop and acquire military technology is not aligned to adapt to the speed, agility, and dynamic nature of information technology (IT) in today’s information age. IT acquisition is different than weapon system acquisition in that IT is network centric and it typically adopts commercial capabilities to suit military needs.
Business Capability Lifecycle (BCL)
With a technology cycle of 12-18 months, a periodic technology refresh is needed to avoid obsolescence. To meet this compressed timeline, the DoD has introduced a new framework called the Business Capability Lifecycle (BCL) to facilitate delivery of IT business capabilities to end users within 12-18 months.
Using examples from large scale DoD acquisition programs, we seek to present trends, pitfalls, and best practices for rapid IT acquisition and its effect on test and evaluation activities.
Test Evaluation and Certification
A key element for the success of such fast paced IT projects is increased focus on analysis and problem identification early in the systems development life cycle. This is accomplished through the integration of continuous testing in the system development phase. In order to shorten the systems development life cycle, Test & Evaluation (T&E) processes will be further integrated to include activities for IT capability certification for security and interoperability. There will be a collaborative approach that should integrate users and developers with T&E, Information Assurance (IA), and interoperability stakeholders. The single Test Evaluation and Certification (TE&C) strategy and findings report also reduces redundancy. Lastly, early TE&C engagement and integrated testing provides continuous user feedback and monitoring that enhances performance, effectiveness and suitability.
Source Code Quality Control
There is a TE&C methodology in use in the Military Health Systems (MHS) called Source Code Quality Control (SCQC) which enables DoD IT projects to identify and remedy technical risks related to code quality, performance, and security. This paper will outline experiences and lessons learned from applying SCQC methodology to a number of IT acquisition projects at the Military Health System (MHS). It will also highlight specifics on how these activities helped MHS to achieve its strategic objectives in enterprise IT acquisition while reaping impressive return on investment (ROI) for SCQC efforts. The SCQC team conducts software audits at different phases of code completion, generates reports on identified issues and remediation recommendations, so that system development vendors can address the issues early enough.
Usage beyond Business Systems
This approach advances the BCL goal of conducting IA activities concurrently with Developmental Test & Evaluation; (DT&E) processes. We will investigate methods for applying this approach to weapon systems acquisition.